"Do you see that it is a diabolical thing, to throw ourselves into danger without cause and for no purpose, and to try whether God will save us?"
When dark times come, God often raises up heroes, standing firm in the midst of fierce persecution, resisting evil even to the point of death. If God calls you and your family to shed every last drop of blood, then be courageous, and stand firm even to the end. This is how the Church discovers its greatest martyrs.
During such troubled times, God also calls many pilgrims to escape danger, and to flee. Faithfully protecting their wives and children, leading them to safety, these valiant men raise up the next generation who will carry the torch, preserving Christian civilization itself.
Nevertheless, even as America and Western Europe persist in outdoing Sodom and Gomorrah, there are some biblically illiterate pundits who say there is something dishonorable about escaping danger. “If you were a true man of faith,” they say, “you would stay and fight.” Perhaps they think that Lot and his daughters should have stuck around Sodom just a little longer, in order to positively influence the local culture.
Of course, Lot’s problem was not a lack of patience — the problem was that he had too much of it. He was complacent. He kept his family in Sodom far longer than he should have, and he barely escaped in time.
Throughought Scripture and the history of the Church, we can see many times when God calls us to flee:
Jesus said, "But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come." (Matthew 10:23) — [Note that this God-given reason for fleeing persists all the way until the second coming of Christ.]
Jesus said that when you see the abomination of desolation, you should "flee into the mountains" (Matthew 24; Luke 21:21).
When it was time for divine judgment to fall upon Babylon, God warned His people, saying, "Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul: be not cut off in her iniquity; for this is the time of the LORD'S vengeance; he will render unto her a recompence. . . . forsake her, and let us go every one into his own country: for her judgment reacheth unto heaven, and is lifted up even to the skies." (Jeremiah 51) — [Similarly, what should we do before God’s judgment falls on America?]
In the New Testament, when God prophetically points to the future Babylon (which may be America itself), He tells us to leave that place: "And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues." (Revelation 18)
During the first three centuries after the birth of Christ, the Catacombs were full of countless Orthodox Christians (including many canonized Saints) who were fleeing from persecution.
Much of Orthodox monasticism came about because thousands of holy Orthodox men and women were fleeing from places full of sin (cities) so that they could relocate to places with fewer sinful distractions (the countryside, a cave, or a foreign land). Many of them became canonized as Orthodox Saints. They fled away from sinful places. They did not stay and fight.
Even Saints in modern times have continued these patterns. For example, St. John Maximovitch and his followers were fleeing from persecution. That’s why they did not remain in Shanghai. They went first to the Philippines, and then to America. St. John was not going to America as a missionary. He was going there because he had been helping his people flee from persecution.
Consider the wise words of St. John Chrysostom. In his commentary on the book of Hebrews, he retells a particular story about the prophet Moses, providing a broad example which applies generally to all Christians. He says it was an act of faith for Moses to flee from the dangers of Egypt:
“So that even flight was [an act of] faith. Why then did he not remain? That he might not cast himself into a foreseen danger. For this finally would have been tempting [God]: to leap into the midst of dangers, and say, ‘Let us see whether God will save me.’ And this the devil said to Christ, ‘Cast Yourself down.’ Do you see that it is a diabolical thing, to throw ourselves into danger without cause and for no purpose, and to try whether God will save us? . . . It would therefore have been a foolish and senseless thing to remain there.”
According to the heroes of the faith, you don’t put yourself and your family into a dangerous situation, unless you have a really good reason for doing so. Intentionally raising ones children in Sodom, even when other options are available, can be a rather senseless pursuit.
It’s time to move to Russia.
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